With the advent of the summer sun just starting to peek out, it’s time to whip out those running shoes and work up a sweat. This is our guide to all the the apps and gear we love to lose pounds with.
While we might still be a ways off from the weight loss wonder drug everyone’s been waiting for, in the meantime our smartphones offer a dozen different tools and techniques that will help you to get motivated in the morning, keep the calories down, and push you to your limits the next time another mile doesn’t feel like enough.
Google Fit/Apple Health
On their own, both the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy 5 are great fitness trackers, capable of logging everything from the amount of steps you take per day to the rhythm of your heartbeat thanks to built-in sensors on the back. By utilizing data collected from the internal accelerometer, GPS sensor, and mapping data, Google’s Fit and Apple’s Health should be the first stop you make and account you set up when it’s time to get serious about getting in shape.
Each smartphone comes with its own built in app designed to help you keep careful records of all your exercise on a given day or week, as well as a slew of nutritional guidelines and coaching that can help you keep your intake in check. Both in-house apps are fully compatible with many of the peripherals and dieting apps mentioned below and can serve as a central hub for your weight-loss schedule .
7 Minute Workout
Based on a proven scientific model for exercise, the 7-Minute Workout app for iOS and Android is the best way to get your heart pumping when the rest of your day is filled with a schedule that barely allows for a moment to breathe, let alone plopping down for a couple pushups.
The free app breaks down the art of breaking down fat cells into a regimented set of easy to learn exercises, many of which can be done with just a bit of spare standing room next to your desk at work or from home. Each is sectioned into different groups depending on the type of progress you hope to achieve, whether it’s shedding off a little extra winter weight, building up muscle tone, or increasing flexibility through a collection of various yoga poses.
The 7-minute workout is a great fit for our go-go society and ADD tendencies, squeezing everything we hate about the gym into a schedule that all but the most hectic of lifestyles can find time to accommodate.
For anyone who might be wary of the idea of dropping upwards of $400 on a fitness wearable, the boys at FitBit have a perfect compromise. The $99 Flex is a peripheral for the people, equipped with a heartbeat monitor, step counter, and even a sleep tracker that tallies how often you toss and turn during the night.
This is especially useful for anyone who finds themselves waking up tired in the morning even though they’ve gotten a full-eight, and helps you to analyze not only how many calories get burned during the day, but also how effective your recovery is during the depths of the sleep session afterward.
The FitBit comes in three different models; the Flex, Surge, and Charge, which will set you back $79, $129, and $249, respectively.
We know: apps that track your running progress, map your routes, and keep logs of your calories burned are pretty much a dime a dozen by this point.
Where Runtastic differs from the rest (besides its recent partnership announcement with the Apple Watch), is in its unique set of stories and motivational audio experiences designed to transport you to another world where running for your life from a pack of wild zombies is just another part of the morning jog.
Sprinting around the neighborhood with flesh-eaters on your tail is just one of many different options though, with trips to Austria, the forest, and even an Alcatraz escape meant to get you moving more than you thought possible.
The basic version of Runtastic is available on iOS and Android free of charge, while the Stories can be purchased individually for $0.99 a pop.
It may be expensive, it may be unwieldy, and you might have to wait behind a million-plus people before you get your hands on one, but there’s no denying that the Apple Watch is a great peripheral for anyone who’s looking to shed a couple pounds before the Solstice.
Specifically, we’re talking about the Sport variant, which at $350 base is the cheapest of the four models going on sale later this month. The Watch will link up seamlessly with a bevy of different apps (several of which are mentioned here), including the company’s own Health app available on iOS 8.0 and above.
Expect the first shipment of Apple Watches to hit brick-and-mortar stores on April 24th, with pre-orders making their way off the factory line and onto your wrist somewhere around the tail end of May.
Want to gorge on cookies, but aren’t sure how many grams of fat you’ve already put down since breakfast? Like pretty much everything else these days — there’s an app for that.
MyFitnessPal is a meal tracking service that allows you to carefully control how many calories you eat at every sitdown, pulling from a massive crowd-sourced database to give you an accurate readout of exactly how bad you’re about to be the next time you ask for an extra slice of double-chocolate devil’s food cake.
The app also features an easy to use barcode scanner which can automatically sync up any packaged foods with your daily diary, making it a cinch to carefully monitor exactly the level of carbs, protein, and sodium you take down during any given feast.
Like Runtastic, MyFitnessPal syncs with many of the most popular external peripherals to assist in tracking your statistics, including the FitBit, PEAR, and Wahoo’s TICKR.
If you were one of the millions of people who saw the movie Her in 2013, you probably had only one thought on your mind after leaving the theater: where can I get one of those sweet earpieces?
Small and unassuming, one of the biggest takeaways from Spike Jonze’s not-so-sci-fi love story was the public’s desire for an earpiece that was wireless, stylish, and could control our phones entirely through voice commands.
And even though an OS as smart and sultry as Scarlett Johannsen might still be a ways off, the tech behind her interaction with the main character is available for pre-order today in the form of The Dash. The Dash is a pair of bluetooth-enabled headphones which can do everything from answering calls to tracking your heartbeat, and pretty much anything else you can think of in between.
Features of the Dash include a personalized audio trainer which tracks your vitals and movement through GPS to customize the perfect workout, an onboard 4GB storage card to hold your favorite tunes, and even realtime sensors which track the noise around you and send an alert for any danger that might approach in the form of passing cars or trucks.
The Dash is still in pre-order for now ($299), but the company says we can expect it to start shipping sometime in May of this year.
Though there’s never an easy answer to the equation of slimming down, thankfully fitness gurus and app developers are ready to make the process just a little bit simpler.
Whether you’re too busy to get your heartbeat up or just want to shed a couple pounds to squeeze into a swimsuit, your smartphone is there to help you get fit before the sun’s out and the shirt gets stripped off.
Image Credits: Samsung Tomorrow/Flickr, Google Play, Apple, FitBit, Runtastic,, Apple, MyFitnessPal, Bragi